Visiting from Goldsmiths’ University, last week Dr Julia Hope shared with the faculty her wealth of experience from her PhD research and a decade as a ‘refugee teacher’, working with children from a refugee background in the classroom.
Her paper explored the range of ways in which children’s books can support children with a refugee background to recognise themselves in fiction, as well as the opportunity for children without these experiences to develop empathy and understanding. Her examples demonstrated that even very young children can through discussion and art demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the reasons people leave, and what it might be like to come to a new classroom, a new school, a new country.
Feedback from the session was excellent. One delegate stated, ‘Excellent session – thoroughly enjoyed it. Thankyou!’ Another, who is a trainee teacher commented, ‘We need more talks like this.’ Students and staff plan to read more of the titles Julia included in her presentation, approaching them critically, and seeking to undertake research in the area. Others reflected on the way the session would help in the classroom to work with refugee families and children.